The Jenkins report

However eagerly anticipated it may have been, the report prepared by public-agency lawyer Michael Jenkins can’t be seen as telling the whole story about the involvement of our local politicians and the Alameda firefighters’ union in the selection of the City’s new fire chief.

That may not be entirely Mr. Jenkins’s fault:  although he managed to interview 22 witnesses, he wasn’t able to obtain all of the relevant evidence.  In fact, several of the key players – state Assemblyman Rob Bonta and, it appears, two IAFF Local 689 leaders – refused to cooperate with the investigation.

But Mr. Jenkins also ignored evidence available to him.  For reasons the report does not specify, he chose not to listen to the recording of a crucial meeting held by Council members Jim Oddie and Malia Vella with City Manager Jill Keimach.

Notwithstanding these gaps in the evidentiary record, the Jenkins report does render a verdict on the culpability of the two Council members.  As to Mr. Oddie, the report states a definitive conclusion:  “Councilmember Oddie violated Section 7-3 of the Alameda City Charter by attempting to influence the City Manager’s appointment [of the fire chief].”  As to Ms. Vella, the conclusion is more equivocal:  “[O]n balance, Vella’s conduct fell short of attempting to interfere with Keimach’s performance of her job or attempting to influence the appointment.”

Beyond those headlines, the Jenkins report also reveals previously undisclosed conduct by Assemblyman Bonta, who warned Ms. Keimach of adverse consequences in Sacramento if she refused to appoint the firefighters’ union candidate, and by Councilwoman Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft, who resisted entreaties by IAFF Local 689 leaders to join the campaign to get the job for the union’s pick.

Also enlightening is the Jenkins report’s detailed portrait of the maneuvering by the firefighters’ union leaders, particularly president Jeff DelBono, to control the selection of the City’s new fire chief.  (The report is heavily redacted; we’ll identify Capt. DelBono by name when the context makes it clear he is the person referred to.)  Staunch City staffers may have insisted, “Jeff DelBono doesn’t run the City; Jill does,” but the report shows that the IAFF Local 689 president did everything in his power to prove that statement wrong.  “From the get-go,” it states, Capt. DelBono “asserted himself into the process with persistence.”

We’ll start our commentary there.  (For this column, we’ll be quoting from the “Final Report” dated January 30, 2018, and released last Wednesday, as it was amended by an undated document entitled, “Errata to January 30, 2018 Investigation Report.”)  Among the tactics employed by the firefighters’ union leaders were these:

  • On April 19, two days after Ms. Keimach told him that she intended to “open up” the recruitment for the fire chief job, Capt. DelBono informed her that, “We have someone that I think you will like and is very qualified.”  This turned out to be Domenick Weaver, the immediate past president of IAFF Local 689 who is now a fire captain.  (Typically, a captain supervises a three-person crew.)  Capt. Weaver later told a witness that he never intended to apply to be fire chief.  “They [i.e., the union leaders] came to me,” he said.
  • On June 26, Capt. DelBono asked Ms. Keimach to meet with him.  At the meeting, he said he had “heard” that Ms. Keimach was “actively recruiting” a candidate from outside the Alameda fire department.  Keimach told him she merely planned to send the man a recruitment brochure.  Capt. DelBono warned Ms. Keimach that she “should know” that “he could send out a statewide notice that no one needed to apply for the” position.
  • After the recruitment process officially began on July 3, IAFF Local 689 leaders, including Capt. DelBono, “embarked upon a campaign to solicit support” for Capt. Weaver, making “numerous calls” and asking for letters of recommendation from “various people,” including politicians and labor leaders.  One was Councilman Oddie, who agreed to submit a letter.  Another was Vice Mayor Vella, who did not.  The application package for the fire chief’s job didn’t request letters of recommendation, but Ms. Keimach ended up receiving 17 missives endorsing Capt. Weaver.
  • On July 10, Councilwoman Ashcraft met with Capt. DelBono at his request. He told her that the union “wanted Weaver selected as Fire Chief” and “wanted her to support Weaver.”  Ms. Ashcraft demurred.  “Cream will rise to the top,” she said.  After the meeting, Ms. Ashcraft got a call from her political consultant, Doug Linney, who reported that “IAFF had reached out to him [and] told him Councilmember Ashcraft ‘was not helping IAFF and was being very difficult.’”
  • Following up on that meeting, Capt. DelBono arranged to meet with Councilwoman Ashcraft again on August 9.  At this meeting he urged Ms. Ashcraft to adopt “fire values,” and emphasized the importance of hiring from within.  When Ms. Ashcraft pointed out that three current fire department employees had applied for the job, Capt. DelBono told her Capt. Weaver was the “endorsed candidate.”
  • IAFF Local 689 leaders, including Capt. DelBono, attempted to “dissuade[] other potential internal candidates” – i.e., fire department employees other than Capt. Weaver – from seeking the chief’s job.  On August 1, a union official admonished a potential applicant not to apply for the job and “implied he might suffer career-related consequences for competing with” Capt. Weaver.  The next day, five members of the department sent the applicant text messages or emails making the same point.
  • As the selection process went forward, the IAFF Local 689 leaders regularly touched base with Vice Mayor Vella, whom Capt. DelBono “lightheartedly” referred to as “one of his children.”  In addition to urging Ms. Vella to meet with Capt. Weaver (she says she declined), Capt. DelBono called her at night, “demanding explanations for her actions or inactions.”
  • Capt. DelBono was a member of one of the two panels set up to interview the fire-chief candidates.  During the second-round interview, he was the only panelist to rank Capt. Weaver first.  “I’m only doing my job,” he told the other panel members.
  • On September 17, Capt. DelBono invited Ms. Keimach to attend a firefighters’ union executive board meeting on September 20, the evening after the final candidate interviews were scheduled.  At the meeting, the board members took turns stating why Capt. Weaver was the “best choice” for the fire chief’s job.  Three of them also dissed the candidacy of the other finalist from the fire department.

From the entire report, one is left with the unmistakable impression that the leaders of the Alameda firefighters’ union, and Capt. DelBono specifically, were playing a particularly aggressive game of hardball to get their hand-picked candidate made fire chief.  Mr. Jenkins takes pains to point out that none of the actions by the union leaders was illegal.  “There are no legal constraints on IAFF’s attempts to influence an appointment [of a fire chief],” he writes.  “Thus, IAFF leadership violated no law by lobbying Keimach in support of Weaver. . . .  Likewise, IAFF leadership violated no law by advocating Weaver’s candidacy to Alameda Councilmembers.”  And yet . . . is this the role we want those representing our firefighters – who are, after all, City employees – to play in personnel decisions?  To the Merry-Go-Round at least, bullying tactics like those employed by Capt. DelBono and his minions belong more on the playground than in the political arena.

And now for the politicians.

First, a word about the investigator’s mission.  Since determining what Mr. Oddie andSidebar on constitutional issue Ms. Vella said to others, and what others said to them, was crucial to evaluating whether either of them violated the Charter, Mr. Jenkins was called upon to act, like a juror, as fact-finder.  Written communications posed no evidentiary problem.  But oral communications were another matter.  Where all of the parties to a multi-party conversation gave interviews and agreed about the contents, Mr. Jenkins readily could find that certain statements in fact were made.  But where the parties disagreed, he had to decide which version to accept.  And where one party refused to cooperate, he had only half of the story to go on.

For one key communication, Mr. Jenkins could have avoided the need to choose between two competing versions by resorting to “extrinsic evidence.”  We’re referring, of course, to the recording made by Ms. Keimach of her August 16 meeting with Mr. Oddie and Ms. Vella.  The online apologists for the two Council members already have declared that the recording was illegal and that the “exclusionary rule” barred the investigator from listening to it.  The latter assertion is simply wrong, and Mr. Jenkins himself makes no such claim.  The legal issues raised by the recording now have been referred to Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley, who must determine, among other things, whether Ms. Keimach recorded the meeting “for the purpose of obtaining evidence reasonably believed to relate to the commission by another party to the communication of the crime” of extortion or bribery.

The Jenkins report contains a few facts Ms. O’Malley might want to consider in evaluating Ms. Keimach’s state of mind.

According to the report, from the beginning of the selection process, Ms. Keimach was “apprehensive” that the Council members who owed their seats to the firefighters’ union would try to influence her appointment of the new fire chief.  This was not paranoia:  in fact, there was an established track record of Council members Oddie, Vella and Ashcraft doing the bidding of organized labor in City personnel matters.  The unions wanted the City to hire only sworn firefighters – i.e., union members – for the new fire prevention bureau.  Done, by a 3-2 Council vote.  The unions wanted to require the golf-course operator to use only union construction workers on its renovation project.  Done, by closed-session Council “direction.”   Moreover, according to the report, Ms. Keimach’s apprehensions were quickly confirmed once the process began.  Ms. Ashcraft explicitly told her that she was being lobbied by Local 689 leaders to get her to push Capt. Weaver for the chief’s job.  Mr. Oddie’s “letter of recommendation” made it abundantly clear what result he sought.

Under these circumstances, was it “reasonable” for Ms. Keimach to suspect, when Mr. Oddie and Ms. Vella requested the August 16 meeting, that the two of them might try to turn the screws on her?  That will be up to Ms. O’Malley to say.

For the conclusion that Mr. Oddie violated the Charter by attempting to influence the appointment of the fire chief, the Jenkins report begins by noting that the Councilman was aware of the Charter prohibition.  It then cites four specific items of supporting evidence:

  • Mr. Oddie sent a letter on City letterhead “strongly recommending” that Ms. Keimach appoint Capt. Weaver as fire chief.  Mr. Oddie did not deny sending the letter, and Mr. Jenkins rejected the Councilman’s attempt to characterize it as a “routine character reference.”
  • Mr. Oddie told Police Chief Paul Rolleri that there already were two Council members ready to fire Ms. Keimach if she didn’t appoint Capt. Weaver.  Although Mr. Oddie never publicly denied making this statement, he did deny it to the investigator.  The Jenkins report doesn’t expressly find that the Councilman was untruthful, but it goes out of its way to describe Chief Rolleri as “a law enforcement officer with over five years of law enforcement experience and with the requisite training” to offer testimony “to prove the truth of the matter” in a grand-jury proceeding.
  • Mr. Oddie “did not acknowledge” to Rod Gould, the management consultant hired by the City to assist with performance reviews, “any significant constraint on his right to go beyond merely letting the City Manager know of his positive views of the fire union’s preferred candidate.”  This may seem like a small point, but the report notes that Mr. Gould was sufficiently concerned about “how invested in the outcome of the City Manager’s decision Mr. Oddie was” that he felt the need to bring the matter to the attention of the City Attorney.
  • At the August 16 meeting with Ms. Keimach, Mr. Oddie brought up the “Raymond Zack incident” – where union leaders sought to blame the then-city manager for the drowning death of a man at Crown Beach rather than the firefighters and cops who failed to rescue him – “suggesting a similar type of backlash” if Ms. Keimach didn’t appoint Capt. Weaver. In addition, Mr. Oddie again “express[ed] his preference” for the union’s pick and criticized City staff and Ms. Keimach for “being underwhelmed” by Capt. Weaver’s credentials.

This last evidentiary finding is perhaps the most significant, because it shows that, having chosen not to listen to the recording, Mr. Jenkins resolved the credibility contest between Mr. Oddie and Ms. Keimach about the August 16 meeting in the City Manager’s favor.  The chronological section of the report recounts the Councilman’s own innocuous description of the event – he just “wanted to make sure that Weaver got a fair shake” – but his interpretation isn’t the one found in the conclusion.  Instead, the summary of supporting evidence tracks Ms. Keimach’s version about Mr. Oddie’s statements almost exactly.

When the report turns to Ms. Vella, the analysis is less systematic than it was for Mr. Oddie.  Plainly, Mr. Jenkins was impressed that Ms. Vella didn’t do the same things Mr. Oddie did:  She didn’t write a letter of recommendation for Capt. Weaver.  (Indeed, Mr. Jenkins accepts her assertion that she actually declined the request for a letter.)  She didn’t brag to Chief Rolleri that there already were two votes to fire Ms. Keimach if the City Manager didn’t appoint Capt. Weaver.  And, rather than alarm the management consultant by offering an overly expansive view of a Council member’s appropriate role in the selection process, she sought Mr. Gould’s advice about “crossing the line.”  All of these differences positively affected Mr. Jenkins’ conclusion about Ms. Vella’s culpability.  More importantly, he appears to have resolved the credibility contest between the Vice Mayor and the City Manager in Ms. Vella’s favor.

The chronological section of the report recounts Ms. Keimach’s version of Ms. Vella’s conduct at the August 16 meeting:  Ms. Vella “expressly advocated” for the firefighters’ union’s pick.  She emphasized that “it was important” to hire Capt. Weaver in order to “avoid a morale issue” and told Ms. Keimach that if she hired Capt. Weaver, “things would go smoothly” and she “would have labor peace.”  But if she didn’t, Ms. Vella was “worried about what would happen.”  Had Mr. Jenkins accepted this testimony at face value, he would have had to conclude that Ms. Vella was as guilty as Mr. Oddie of attempting to twist Ms. Keimach’s arm.

But Ms. Keimach’s version doesn’t make it into the section of the report in which Mr. Jenkins pronounces judgment.  Instead, we read there that Ms. Vella “adopted a measured approach in her communications with” Ms. Keimach in which she communicated “primarily” that she “wanted to be fair” and that Capt. Weaver “should be given a fair shot at the position.”  (Note how similar this statement is to what Mr. Oddie asserted he said).  Indeed, she “made a point” of saying that the appointment was Ms. Keimach’s decision.  If this in fact is all that Ms. Vella said and did, one can well understand why Mr. Jenkins decided that, “on balance, Vella’s conduct fell short of” violating the Charter.

There is no point in speculating about why Mr. Jenkins appears to have accepted Ms. Vella’s description of statements made to Ms. Keimach and rejected Mr. Oddie’s.   Since the interviews were conducted in private, the investigator alone was in a position to evaluate the demeanor of the two Council members and other factors relevant to their credibility.  The rest of us won’t get that chance unless and until they swear an oath and take the stand in a courtroom open to the public.

Finally, the Bonta and Ashcraft stories.

On September 15, Ms. Keimach and three Council members, including Ms. Ashcraft and Ms. Vella, were attending a League of California Cities conference in Sacramento.  Assemblyman Bonta texted Ms. Vella requesting that the Alameda delegation come to his office before they left town.  Ms. Vella called Ms. Keimach, who was driving home separately, to relay Mr. Bonta’s request.  Ms. Keimach twice asked what the Assemblyman wanted to talk about.  Ms. Keimach will know, Ms. Vella quoted Mr. Bonta as saying.

The meeting didn’t take place.  But the next business day, Mr. Bonta called Ms. Keimach directly.  He said he wanted to be sure that Ms. Keimach had received his letter of recommendation for Capt. Weaver.  Ms.  Keimach said she had and asked if this was the reason for requesting a meeting in Sacramento.  The Assemblyman replied that he wanted to talk with her before the final interviews for the job occurred.  He then told Ms. Keimach that “Weaver was good because he could get ‘boots on the ground’ for any campaign that is coming along through his firefighters.”  When the City Manager protested that she was not making a political appointment, Mr. Bonta reminded her of a recent bill he had helped to pass and told her that “the City would need Weaver as Fire Chief if it wanted legislation like that to pass; he did not think similar bills will pass without Weaver being Fire Chief.”

Later on in the chronology, the report provides a coda to the Bonta story.  The Assemblyman made an appearance at the October 17 Council meeting to praise Mr. Oddie and Mr. Vella.  Having done so, Mr. Bonta cautioned that the “focus should be on the will of the people, not on political witch hunts or self-serving political attacks.”

We’ve already related part of the Ashcraft story as described in the Jenkins report:  theSidebar on Spencer and Matarrese July 10 meeting at which Capt. DelBono told her the firefighters’ union wanted her to support Capt. Weaver; his follow-up call to her political consultant complaining that she was “being very difficult,” and the August 9 meeting at which Capt. DelBono urged her to adopt “fire values.”  The Jenkins report also discloses that an IAFF Local 689 official asked Ms. Ashcraft to write her own letter of recommendation for Capt. Weaver, and that one of the candidates from the fire department, apparently Capt. Weaver himself, met with her personally to press his case.  Ms. Ashcraft declined to write the letter, and, in response to the candidate’s description of the fire chief’s job as being the “public face” of the department, she told him “the job was so much more” than that.

Based on this evidence, Mr. Jenkins readily absolved Ms. Ashcraft of any Charter violation:  “Councilmember Ashcraft was forthright with [the IAFF Local 689 leaders] about how far she was prepared to go and was scrupulous not to influence Keimach’s decision.”

The Jenkins report was only made available to the public last Wednesday, but Council has had it since January 30.  Thus far, the body has taken no action against any Council member in response to the report, and we’re not holding our breath waiting for them to do so.  It would be the height of chutzpah for Mr. Oddie, or even Ms. Vella, to channel Donald Trump and demand a declaration of innocence from the investigator.  Even if such a demand was made, we can’t imagine Mr. Jenkins going along.  By the same token, we don’t expect that a motion to refer the Jenkins report to the Alameda County grand jury for further review would pass, especially since Mr. Oddie and Ms. Vella have decided that it is perfectly appropriate to vote on matters in which their own conduct is at issue.  Indeed, we wouldn’t even bet on a slap on the wrist for Mr. Oddie.

For any Council member to suffer any consequences from the Jenkins report, it will have to be the voters who impose them.

Sources:

January 30, 2018 “Final Report”: Final Report – Redacted for release 5-2-18 – OCR (1-30-18)

“Errata to January 30, 2018 Investigation Report”: Final Report – Redacted for release 5-2-18 – OCR (errata)

About Robert Sullwold

Partner, Sullwold & Hughes Specializes in investment litigation
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30 Responses to The Jenkins report

  1. Linda S says:

    As always Robert well done … I noticed on my absentee ballot Ron Bonta is up for re-election. A good place to start to knock the house of cards down.

    • FernsideRez says:

      Indeed!! Unfortunately people vote on name recognition, good or bad, they’ve heard of him and not whoever else he is running against so my guess is he wins unless there is a big movement for the opposing candidate.

    • Catherine Bierwith says:

      YES!

  2. Linda S says:

    Correction… my sample ballot

  3. anonymous says:

    Praeteritio: “There is no point in speculating about why Mr. Jenkins appears to have accepted Ms. Vella’s description of statements made to Ms. Keimach and rejected Mr. Oddie’s.”

    • Robert Schrader says:

      Care to speculate? Or would that just be succumbing to an example of praeteritio?

      As for me – (being much more concerned about transparent governance than jurisprudence) this situation just reinforces the need for public disclosure of Jill’s recording.

      • FernsideRez says:

        Agreed. The entire report seems moot if the recordings show guilt and no one listened to them. If they show otherwise that is helpful to know too.

  4. FernsideRez says:

    Thank you for your time and thoughtful analysis!

  5. carol says:

    I’ve never seen Jeff DelBono fight a fire, but he sure seems to start more than a few.

  6. Andrew Huntoon says:

    The stench of this whole matter nauseates me. Offering any level of privacy to any public employee or elected official in any public dealings is stupid. Where is the transparency?
    People serving the public in any capacity with public funding skirting brown act and sunshine provisions should be removed from office.
    All public officials should be acting as though, and be subject to recording, clandestine or openly of their conversations in all official business matters.
    I fear this matter is just the tip of the iceberg and unfortunately not limited to this level of government.
    I have great respect for the council members whose ethics made them unapproachable to the conspirators.

    • Juelle Ann Boyer says:

      State law protects public safety officers’ names and addresses from being included in public documents. Hence, names have been redacted from the public report.

  7. Mike Cooper says:

    Thank you for your analysis of this issue. It is crucial that Alamedans are made aware of just how dirty our local politics has become. The more I read about the firefighters union the more I like the idea of a volunteer fire dept.

  8. Ken Werner says:

    All I can say is “Oh, My”.

    Sent from my iPad

    >

  9. Paul Foreman says:

    Mr. Sullwold, thank you or a great piece of work. However, I disagree with you that it would be speculation to determine why Mr. Jenkins accepted Ms. Keimach’s recollection of Oddie’s remarks at the Aug. 16th meeting, while rejecting her recollection Ms. Vela’s remarks in the same conversation.

    Mr. Jenkins explains his conclusion at page 9 of the Report, stating that Keimach saw the meeting as a “component of an orchestrated campaign to persuade her to select Weaver; in view of all of the events and communications that preceded it, her view was not irrational” Jenkins then concludes that “…apparently meeting with Councilmembers Oddie and Vella together left Keimach with the impression that the two councilmembers were acting as a team. Further, Keimach conflated the councilmembers intentions, attributing improper motives to both of them. Finally, Keimach’s heightened level of anxiety seems to have interfered with her ability to consider legitimate concerns of being raised by the councilmembers about the process that were not meant to influence her choice of candidate.”

    I agree with your point that only Jenkins had the opportunity to actually meet face to face with Keimach and other witnesses to determine their credibility. However he gives us not hint of what caused him to conclude that Keimach was suffering from a mild form of paranoia. On the contrary his report is full of statements that contradict his conclusion.

    1. Jenkins admits that both Oddie and Vella were under strong pressure from Delbono.
    2. He states that Mr. Gould told him that Vella was just as motivated as Oddie to have Weaver hired.
    3. He seems to accept as verity that Oddie and Vella admitted to Keimach at the outset of the conversation that they had car pooled to a wedding and had discussed what they were going to say to her. (Thus Keimach’s belief that they were acting as a team was not a misunderstanding, it was an admitted fact!)
    4. While Vella claims she was just concerned with process, there is no evidence as to what process concerns she had.
    5. Keimach gives a detailed account of specific separate statements made to her by each councilmember, all of which were directed to expressing their desire that she hire Mr. Weaver. Yet Jenkins believes her recollection of Oddie and discounts it as to Vella.

    The facts are really very simple; Mr. DelBono was pressing Ms. Ashcraft, Mr. Oddie and Ms. Vella very hard to get Ms. Keimach to hire Mr. Weaver. (Something that he had the right to do). However, all three councilmembers were prohibited by the Charter to do so. Ms. Ashcraft, to her credit, told him that this was a bridge too far. Mr. Oddie saluted smartly and crossed the bridge. Ms. Vella tippy toed over the bridge and might or might not have crossed to the other side. Only the tape will tell.

  10. Mark Greenside says:

    As usual, this is a very clear and helpful analysis of events. However, I strongly disagree with one particular segment:

    “Ms. Vella “adopted a measured approach in her communications with” Ms. Keimach in which she communicated “primarily” that she “wanted to be fair” and that Capt. Weaver “should be given a fair shot at the position.” … If this in fact is all that Ms. Vella said and did, one can well understand why Mr. Jenkins decided that, “on balance, Vella’s conduct fell short of” violating the Charter.”

    Ms. Vella is Ms. Keimach’s boss. Ms. Vella is part of a team that evaluates, hires, and fires the City Manager. When such a person–a boss–expresses her views to an underling, a worker, someone who answers to them, they are intruding and interfering, and because of the power to evaluate and fire, threatening. Indeed, there is no evidence to indicate Mr Weaver was not beinbg “given a fair shot”. There is no evidence that the process was unfair or problematic (except for the interference of Council Members).

    For Ms. Vella to step in, voice her concerns, mentioning one candidate in particular, one candidate only, and not mentioning the fairness of the process for everyone, she was clearly trying to influence the decision, and by virtue of being the City Manager’s boss, her intrusion would/should be seen as an attempt to intimidate–especially since the City Manager’s job evaluation was and is still in the process of being completed.

    A boss telling an employee what s/he thinks cannot be viewed as a neutral act, especially when the employee is in the midst of a performance evaluation. In short, Council Member Vella’s behavior should not be given a pass. It was intended to inform, which in this case amounts to interference, intimidation, and threats.

    Mr. Sullwold, I think you let Ms. Vella off the hook to easily.

    • Robert Schrader says:

      Remembering that Vella is one of Keimach’s bosses is a critical point. There is simply no way that she can distance herself and her behavior in a joint meeting between two of the five ‘bosses’ with one of their ’employees’ by implying it was advisory and non-intrusive. There is a responsibility that goes with office, and the other three council members appear to have a much better handle on it. Ms. Ashcraft was in a grey area by even being approachable, unlike the better principled remaining two council members.
      By allowing unfettered access to those they have campaigned actively for, we have continued to encourage the ever-increasing hubris of the IAFF local 689 leaders.
      Shame on them and, by implication, shame on us.

      • Paul Foreman says:

        Robert, You are 100% correct. I have written a letter to Council and submitted an article to the Sun that makes that point. Ms. Vella should not have participated in the Aug. 16 meeting. Regardless of how carefully she parsed her language, the whole scenario sent an unmistakable and justified impression on Ms. Keimach that her job was in danger. Even Jenkins concedes this point.

        I do not share your assessment of Ms. Ashcraft, nor your comparison of her behavior to that of Mr. Mataresse and Ms. Spencer who have never accepted contributions from the Union and thus were under little or no pressure from Union leadership. I do not agree with Ms. Ashcraft on almost anything other than the time of day and will not support her for Mayor, but in this instance, I understand the pressure she was under. I admire and respect how she handled this and the cost she was willing to bear.

  11. Denise Lai says:

    Thank you for your research and reporting. Much appreciated.

  12. MP says:

    Speculation recently has been that President Trump might find himself forced into a corner where, as a last resort response to requests for an interview with Mueller or perhaps a subpoena, it might make sense for him to invoke his right under the 5th Amendment not to testify against himself. That would seem like a recipe for political disaster unless Trump convinces the public somehow that the Mueller team itself is the problem – a leaky witch hunt with a bad case of mission creep, etc., etc., etc. But, at least from a narrow criminal liability perspective, Trump’s non-cooperation would not only deprive the prosecution of the evidence that might have been obtained, his invocation of the 5th would also be something that could not be used in a criminal trial to suggest that Trump is hiding something or that he must be guilty.

    Here, Councilmembers Oddie and Vella deserve credit for agreeing to be interviewed by Jenkins, albeit with their lawyers sitting in. However much they say they welcomed the investigation, no doubt it is not something to which anyone would really look forward. It is hard, however, to conclude – like Ms. Vella’s May 2 press release asserts – that “the truth” has come out yet, especially with respect to the very much disputed Aug 16 meeting.

    Even assuming Jenkins properly declined to consider the recording of the meeting in his given role, it is hard to believe that he arrived at more than a limited version of “the truth”. We usually think of tape recordings as being at least as accurate as, for example, an after the fact interview undertaken with advice of counsel (as has been demonstrated in some police shooting incidents). Assuming Ms. Vella and Mr. Oddie do not call for release of the tape, should we not expect the public to draw the same type of conclusion it would likely draw about Trump if he were to assert the 5th, especially if “the truth” is the desired outcome?

  13. Steve Gerstle says:

    “Councilmember Matarrese reported having a conversation on October 2, 2017 with
    Councilmember Oddie, in which he told Councilmember Oddie that his letter of
    recommendation in support of Weaver was really bad for the City, expressing his opinion that
    the letter damaged the credibility of the Council. Councilmember Mataresse indicated that
    he expressed his view that this episode could erode the public trust and impair the integrity of
    the City Manager performance evaluation.”

    And it has done just that. Is this just the tip of the iceberg as to how decisions at City Hall are really made?

  14. Allan Mann says:

    I appreciate your efforts to work through the legalities, but we wouldn’t even be having this conversation if the Firefighters Union had not spent so much money during the last several elections to place people on the council to carry their water. We need campaign finance reform that limits the ability of special interests to buy the government that will best serve their needs. That includes landlords, tenant groups and developers as well as unions. Candidates can start by pledging to refuse amounts from any single source (or groups of affiliated sources) that exceed a certain portion of their total donations and/or recuse themselves from any decision that affects a major donor. And the rest of us can “follow the money” during campaign season.

  15. Andrew Huntoon says:

    bingo !!

  16. carol says:

    Thursday May 10, 6-8 PM, meet and greet Gavin Newsom and Rob Bonta at Jeff delBono’s house. Suggested donations only $250 to $58,400, Anyone going?

    • Catherine Bierwith says:

      I have heard about this event. But, where is it listed publically?

      • carol says:

        I got an email about it b/c I’m on the Bonta mailing list [which is a good way to keep tabs on the doings of Alameda fire unions]. It was posted on FB at Alameda94501. Someone observed that an AFD ladder truck was in attendance.

  17. Steve Gerstle says:

    The fire department wants a lot more money, including a salary of $365,000 a year plus benefits for a fire marshal – twice as much as our Governor makes.
    alameda.legistar.com/gateway.aspx?M=F&ID=23c96ee6-306c-4cc1-9931-44bfb7c565db.pdf

    They also say that they are unable to provide dive services for rescue unless they get more money.

    • Allan Mann says:

      And after they convinced the council to take the higher cost option for restoring the fire safety program, they began billing Alameda businesses for the inspections.

  18. TJ says:

    They keep referencing an “Independent Report” by Jenkins. I have been told that the City Council actually edited the report. In addition to listening to the tape, it would be interesting to see a redline of the changes made to the “report”. Maybe a “Report Drafted by Consultant (hired by the City Council) and EDITED by City Council” would be more accurate than “Independent Report”. Also, if Oddie and Vella are so innocent, why aren’t they DEMANDING to have the tape made public. Somethings smell in Alameda. Please VOTE!!!!

  19. Barbara Thomas says:

    One would think for $40,000 plus, Jenkins could have written a simple waiver of any liability/hold harmless agreement and asked Vella and Oddie to sign it so that he could listen to the tapes without waiting for DA Nancy O’Malley to charge Vella and Oddie, (wasn’t Bonta a party too?) with felonies of conspiracy to commit malfeasance, extortion and blackmail. If Vella has any integrity whatsoever she would want the public to hear the tapes, so that we could join in her opinion that the tapes clear her. Either she is merely deflecting, or does not believe the story she is asking voters to believe. Sounds like someone else in national office. The fact is Bonta openly participated in this coercion against the best interests of the citizens, and nothing is being done to him. He will claim his “re-election” clears him of any wrongdoing. As will Oddie and Vella if they are ever elected to any office again. If that happens, we might as well just put the firefighters in charge of the entire city General Fund.

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